David Cameron and Holy Communion
The Prime Minister’s legislative intention to interfere with the God-created institution of heterosexual marriage has serious spiritual implications for him as a communicant Anglican.
God's Word written (as Article XX of the XXXIX describes the Bible) sets forth the creation of marriage by the Lord God Almighty in the book of Genesis. In two of the Synoptic Gospels, God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, publicly defends the created institution of marriage before large crowds in Galilee in argument against powerful vested interests (see Matthew 19v1-12 and Mark 10v1-12).
Word and Sacrament go together in Anglican theology, a nexus faithfully reflected in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, which, according to Canon A5, is a liturgical repository of sound biblical truth. The BCP is an integrated liturgy, which means both its Holy Communion service and its marriage service have important bearing on the question of Mr Cameron’s continuing admittance to the Lord’s Table.
The BCP’S Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion warns Communicants against taking the sacrament ‘unworthily’. Worthiness is defined by Holy Scripture, because the exhortation prior to the administration of the Lord's Supper refers to the apostolic authority of St Paul.
Reflecting the same attitude to the authority of the Bible, the BCP’s Form of Solemnization of Matrimony is crystal clear that marriage is betwixt a man and a woman and that sexual relations outside of the God-created institution of heterosexual, monogamous, life-long marriage constitute ‘fornication’.
So Mr Cameron’s public action in pushing for the legal redefinition of marriage is very serious from an historic Anglican perspective.
Canon B16 - ‘Of notorious offenders not to be admitted to Holy Communion’ – declares that: ‘If a minister be persuaded that anyone of his cure who presents himself to be a partaker of the Holy Communion ought not to be admitted thereunto by reason of malicious and open contention with his neighbours, or other grave and open sin without repentance, he shall give an account of the same to the bishop of the diocese or other Ordinary of the place and therein obey his order and direction, but so as not to refuse the sacrament to any until in accordance with such order and direction he shall have called him and advertised him that in any wise he presume not to come to the Lord’s Table.’
The diocesan bishop is ultimately responsible for Holy Communion discipline. The minister of the church where Mr Cameron takes Christ’s sacrament urgently needs to confer with his or her Ordinary as to whether the Prime Minister’s move to redefine God’s created institution of man-woman marriage constitutes ‘grave and open sin without repentance’.
Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire – www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk